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The Peter Attia Drive

Jun 28, 2021

Gary Taubes is an investigative science and health journalist and a best-selling author. In this podcast, Gary explains how he developed a healthy skepticism for science as he was transitioning from being a physics major to beginning as a science journalist. He talks about how he was particularly drawn to sussing out “pathologic science,” telling the stories behind his books on the discovery of the W and Z bosons and cold fusion, emphasizing the need for researchers to perform a thorough background analysis. Gary then describes how his work came to focus on public health, nutrition, and obesity. He provides a great historic overview of obesity research and provides his explanation for why the conventional wisdom today is incorrect.
We discuss:

  • Gary’s background in science and journalism, and developing a healthy skepticism for science [2:20];
  • Gary’s boxing experience, and the challenge of appreciating behavioral risk [8:40];
  • How Gary developed his writing skills, and what the best science writers do well [16:45];
  • Example of how science can go wrong, and the story behind Gary’s first book, Nobel Dreams [25:15];
  • Theoretical vs. experimental physicists: The important differentiation and the relationship between the two [36:00];
  • Pathological science: research tainted by unconscious bias or subjective effects [40:30];
  • Reflecting on the aftermath of writing Nobel Dreams and the legacy of Carlo Rubbia [49:45];
  • Scientific fraud: The story of the cold fusion experiments at Georgia Tech and the subject of Gary’s book, Bad Science [53:45];
  • Problems with epidemiology, history of the scientific method, and the conflict of public health science [1:09:00];
  • Gary’s first foray into the bad science of nutrition [1:26:45];
  • Research implicating insulin’s role in obesity, and the story behind what led to Gary’s book, Good Calories, Bad Calories [1:36:15]
  • The history of obesity research, dietary fat, and fat metabolism [1:46:00]
  • The evolving understanding of the role of fat metabolism in obesity and weight gain [1:55:15]
  • Mutant mice experiments giving way to competing theories about obesity [2:04:00]
  • How Gary thinks about the findings that do not support his alternative hypothesis about obesity [2:08:00]
  • Challenges with addressing the obesity and diabetes epidemics, palatability and convenience of food, and other hypotheses [2:14:45];
  • Challenging the energy balance hypothesis, and the difficulty of doing good nutrition studies [2:25:00]; and
  • More.

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